Union Dues Finance a Fine Lifestyle

Westbrook Pegler

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/May 18, 1940

 New York, May 17—The federal grand jury in Chicago recently presented an indictment against George M. Meyers, business agent of the Chicago Glazier’s union of the American Federation of Labor, and numerous other defendants. The other defendants include the Glass Contractors’ association of the Chicago area, numerous firms in the association and a number of individuals.

This indictment is a typical Thurman Arnold bill, setting forth that the union and the employers conspired to maintain fixed prices for material and otherwise to restrain trade. It also is alleged that Meyers and two other officers of the union—Charles Pfeiffer, the president, and Max Glass, like Meyers, a business agent—accepted money from the association at various times. Leo Tierney, the special assistant to the US attorney general in charge of the case, estimates the total amount of the payments at $86,000, but reports that the returns are incomplete.

He contend that the payments were made at the rate of $1.50 per day for, but not to, each employed member of the union. There are 425 members, about half of whom are employed, the work being rotated, at a scale of $13.60 a day. The members pay dues of $100 per year and an initiation fee ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. It is Mr. Tierney’s contention, based on inspection of the accounts of the union and of Meyers’ own accounts, that the money received from the contractors did not go into the union treasury. If it be assumed that 200 members of the union were steadily employed five days a week the payments to the union officers would be about $300 a day, roughly $1,500 a week, or $78,000 a year. This condition is alleged to have continued for three years. Disposition of the union dues and fees was not investigated.

The investigation turned up some interesting material. It was discovered, for example, that the union had an employment fund which became inactive in 1932 but what Mr. Meyers nevertheless continued to check money into this fund and out of it. In fact, he checked money out faster than he checked money in, as will be seen presently. It was further discovered that he cashed checks from companies in the association made payable to himself. There are indications that Mr. Meyers’ tastes, though perhaps coarse, are not humble.

There is a record of a check for $841 drawn on the union’s unemployment fund on Jan 2,, 1937, when he apparently was taking the sun in Miami, along with George Scalise, and this check was indorsed by B.Costello and the Biscayne Kennel Club of Miami. It was a rubber check, and it bounced. Nine days later Mr. Meyers bounced another check on the unemployment fund, this time for $1,080, cashed by a Mr. Maher, and on Feb. 15, in Jacksonville, he bounced another rubber one, for $950, also drawn against the unemployment fund, which was indorsed by “Jacksonville Br., F.B.R. of Atlanta.”

Although all these checks were protested, they may, of course, have been made good later. On March 15 Mr.. Meyers cashed a good check, for $350, payable to himself, from the Hamilton Glass Co., one of the present defendants. The Biscayne Kennel Club took another chance in cashing this one. The next fall—on Nov. 15, 1937, to be exact—Mr. Meyers appears to have been out helling around Chicago by night, for on that date he cashed another check to himself from the Hamilton Glass Co. The amount was $1,000. The circumstances may be imagined from the fact that it bears the indorsement of Mr. Joe Jacobson, a partner of Mr. Mike Fritzel in the operation of the famous night club or joint called Chez Paree, which also maintained a gambling room from time to time when conditions are right with the Kelly-Nash civilization. Last year the name of the dump was discovered in the customer accounts of a company dealing in crooked gambling tools.

Mr. Meyers maintains a farm at Valparaiso, Ind., where he sometimes gets away from the problems of the working stiff, which, naturally, are like to break the heart of a labor leader, and in a local Valparaiso bank his wife Audrey Meyers carries an account the deposits in which have maintained an average of $1,000 a month.

Mr. Meyers was fined $5,000 in the federal court in February, 1929, for violation of the Sherman Act, and the presumption is that the half-time working stiffs of the Glazier’s union, the same whose unemployment fund was tapped for disbursements at the Biscayne Kennel Club, chipped in and paid the fine for their faithful servant. Mr. Meyers is about 65 years old, but is a snappy dresser and exceedingly fond of the good things of life.

(Source: Google News, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=SFOYbPikdlgC&dat=19400518&printsec=frontpage&hl=en)